After a day of absorbing barbs — including an accusation of blackmail — from top officials in Texas, the White House counter-punched while adding clarity to President Barack Obama's controversial public school bathroom directive that was disseminated Friday.
that earlier in the day, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick told reporters "we will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States."
The White House was not amused.
"I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to elected statewide office," press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at the daily briefing, Politico reported.
At issue is Obama's demand that public schools nationwide allow transgender students to use facilities with which they identify vs. the gender listed on their birth certificate.
Earnest stressed that the directive is merely guidance for school districts that are starved for advice, and that it adds no new requirements to state law.
"And the challenge here is not to isolate anybody, it's not to discriminate against anybody, it's not to make anybody unsafe," Earnest said. "It's actually to ensure that our schools are as inclusive and respectful and safe as they can possibly be," Politico reported.
However, it does carry the threat of lawsuits or revocation of federal funds if not followed. Earnest doesn't think it will come to that, saying he anticipates most schools would "welcome this advice and implement it."
That might not be the case in some parts of Texas, where one superintendent on Friday said, "That letter is going straight to the paper shredder."
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